A new capacity deal between Qantas (QF, Sydney Kingsford Smith) and Alliance Airlines (QQ, Brisbane Int'l) will see the replacement of B737-800s with smaller E190s on the QantasLink network from June 2021.

In terms of the agreement announced on February 4, Qantas has signed a three-year contract to use Alliance Airline's three recently-acquired 94-seat Embraer regional jets based in Darwin and Adelaide, which will enable it to make capacity adjustments on selected routes depending on travel demand. Initial routes identified would be Adelaide-Alice Springs, Darwin-Alice Springs, and Darwin-Adelaide. Frequencies are likely to increase on these routes due to the smaller aircraft type, with Qantas’ B737s to be redeployed elsewhere in Australia, the Qantas Group said in a statement.

Qantas said the agreement provided it with the flexibility to access an additional eleven E190s and switch off some, or all, of this capacity, depending on market conditions. It said the arrangement was in line with its ongoing “right aircraft, right route” strategy to its network management.

The capacity switch timing will depend on the rate of recovery in travel demand, which is currently expected to start in June 2021, once the vast majority of Qantas’s domestic network has returned to pre-COVID levels. In the best-case scenario, the arrangement will assist Qantas Group in meeting an expected surge in local tourism demand once the country moves beyond sudden COVID-related border closures, the statement said.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Qantas operates sixty B737-800s; while Alliance Airlines currently has three E190-100ARs, with twenty-seven to be delivered.